Bars with a view: LA's best rooftop bars

Check out LA's best bars with a view, from Venice's beachside sunsets to rooftop bars with city views over the Strip

What is it that they say about smog? Oh yeah, beautiful sunsets. Make LA's haze work for you at these top bars and beachside spots, where the views rightfully rival the booze. From Sunset Strip's rooftop bars to Malibu's seaside cabanas, here are the city's best bars with a view.

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Photograph: Courtesy Standard Downtown
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Standard Downtown

Even if you don’t hop in the pool, you can still plunge into the fun on one of the bright red waterbed pods scattered across the roof at the Downtown outpost of Andre Balaz’s hip hotel. Take the elevator up to the top, where mod furnishings give a slightly space-age vibe—the perfect backdrop for a crowd ranging from folks waiting for next year’s Burning Man to hotel guests checking out the scene. Weekend afternoons call for cocktail lounging—try the sweet and sour Hennessy Lemonade—but beware the $20 cover after 7pm, which doesn’t deter the lines that can stretch out into the parking lot.

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Downtown
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
2/10

Upstairs

Look good—but not like you're trying too hard—when visiting Upstairs, a Moroccan oasis perched atop the trendy Ace Hotel. The elevator next to L.A. Chapter is your key to getting inside (or rather, outside) the buzzing, open-air roof deck, swathed in an exotic canopy and scattered with hip Downtowners clutching plastic cups. Perfect for an after-work schmooze or a reunion with old friends, you'll find two bars to order a drink from (be warned: weekends bring the requisite long lines). Try the Lefty Lucy, a surprisingly easy-to-drink concoction made with chile liqueur, peach liqueur, ginger, lime and yellow chartreuse.

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Historic Core
Photograph: Courtesy Petit Ermitage
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Petite Ermitage

Tucked in a residential neighborhood in West Hollywood, just off the bustle of the Strip, this eclectic, charming gem is half your parents' version of European sophistication, half retreat for actual Europeans. With 360° views and virtually no scene, the boho-chic hotel's rooftop club has plenty of fireside cabanas to sip on love potions—from French 75 to Infante, a rose water and nutmeg–spiked elixir—for a romantic hideaway or indoor-outdoor poolside patio where you can gaze out over the city, an oasis all your own. Actually, you won't be completely alone—the rooftop garden is recognized as a hummingbird and butterfly sanctuary by the National Wildlife Federation, so you’ll have some winged company.

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West Hollywood
Photograph: Gaszton Gal
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Thompson Beverly Hills

The bi-level stunner at this Beverly Hills hotel offers wraparound views of the city, with the added fun of an upper-level, outdoor pool deck where people-watchers can gaze down at the scene around the small bar. Though open to hotel guests and those with a coveted elevator key, the rooftop deck is a city oasis even on weekends, which might be a plus because you’ll be able to snag a chaise lounge. When it does fill up, day or night, expect to see ladies with mandatory blowouts noshing on tempting, small-bite sliders and the after-work crowd downing happy hour martinis, a bargain at $7 apiece.

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Photograph: Courtesy Skybar
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SkyBar

The rooftop bar that started it all, the Mondrian's Skybar still retains its secret Sunset Strip entryway, complete with dress-to-impress entry and nightlife cred—this is one of the rare poolside bars where people really do jump in after a night of cocktails. The all-ages crowd ranges from wide-eyed ingénues to aging Robert Evans types, but no matter where you fall on the spectrum, the Mexican-style oasis of flowering walls and gorgeous nooks will win you over, especially with a mojito in hand.

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West Hollywood
Photograph: Courtesy High at the Hotel Erwin
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High Rooftop Lounge

Beachside rooftops are in surprisingly short supply in LA, making the Hotel Erwin's High Rooftop Lounge an in-demand spot for sun-kissed Venice Beach locals. Even if you’re staying at the hotel, be sure to make a reservation. There’s nothing like a multi-hued sunset over the Pacific with a cocktail in hand to get Angelenos buzzing. Getting chilly? Evening bar-goers can stay past sundown wrapped up in one of the bar’s cozy blankets, along with a spiked cocoa or hot root beer float. If you don’t like your drinks sweet, stick to local craft brews to pair with midnight (gourmet) munchies like the mini lobster roll and a bacon, cream cheese, jalapeño hot dog.

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Venice
Photograph: Courtesy Above Beverly Hills
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Above Beverly Hills

Above Beverly Hills provides both a name and directions to this exclusive hotel bar. Open to Sixty Beverly Hills guests, members and cabana reservations during the day, this ritzy rooftop lounge is open to the public for a swanky bar crowd at night. The rooftop lounge offers wine, beer and and cocktails, including their refreshing signature Lemonade Chill, crafted with vodka and housemade lemonade until last call. Appetizers and meals, from kale salads to fish tacos, are also available on the roof of the sleek hotel. During the summer, the poolside hangout serves up beats by local DJs spinning at least once a week—check with the hotel for more details. You'll pay a pretty penny for your libations, but it's worth it for the view.

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Photograph: Courtesy The Fonda Theatre
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The Fonda Theatre

A smoke break doesn’t mean that you’ll miss the show at Hollywood's Fonda Theatre, where not only is the music hooked up to the rooftop "speakeasy," but the live on-stage performance is also projected on the exterior wall. Unfortunately, you do have to buy tickets to the gig to gain entrance, but the prime perch—lounge on one of the scattered sofas on the outdoor patio—from the historic Spanish Revival–style building offers an unobstructed view of Hollywood as you listen to indie faves like Alt-J and the Alabama Shakes. Throw back a brewski and gaze down the boulevard as you channel your inner Dracula, performed on the Fonda stage soon after it opened in 1926.

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Photograph: Courtesy Perch
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Perch LA

This rooftop bistro is one of the prettiest in town with its patterned tile floors, dead-on view of the Central Library and potted trees full of twinkly lights. Downtown locals, plus a few hundred of their closest friends, sit on velour bar stools and plush sofas inside the eclectic boudoir-themed bar or fireside on the outdoor patio. From any seat, you’ll want to sample the wide selection of Kirs that go beyond Crème de Cassis—try a tasty, blackberry-flavored Crème de Mure—and other French by-the-glass pours. The after-work crowd drops in for happy hour, dubbed Apéritif Hour, weekdays from 4 to 6pm, while late-night partygoers can enjoy a live DJ on Tuesdays from 9pm-2am.

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Downtown
Photograph: Courtesy Moonshadows
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Moonshadows

Forget flip-flops and sunscreen—dolphin sightings are de rigueur at this longtime PCH watering hole. With an outdoor lounge area lined with white beds and curtained booths, that hangs right over the Pacific, you're practically within blowhole distance of the pods that swim close to shore. Catch afternoon rays at weekend brunch or laze on the sundeck at sunset or after dark, when Malibu locals turn out for margaritas and the salt air mixes with pretty young things.

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Malibu

Comments

1 comments
Hannan A
Hannan A

These rooftop bars are amazingly beautiful. I would definitely visit a place like this to spend some time. Even the thought of going to such a place is rejuvenating for the soul. Rooftop bars are a great way of expanding business without the need of more real estate.